Analysing origin, quality and ecological impacts of microplastic pollution in the Arctic in an exemplary, environmental-friendly way: from the highest volcano in the Arctic to the pack ice and the Arctic Ocean, we EXPLORE – INSPIRE – ACT. Join our campaign “SAVE the ARCTIC”!

Beerenberg – highest volcano in the Arctic on Jan Mayen Island

Expedition Reports

“Challenging Start”, June 20th

“Champagne Sailing to Svalbard”, June 25th


Please help crowed-funding for new batteries for the TOPtoTOP expedition sailbaot “Pachamama”!

Plastics in the Arctic, Austrian Polar Research Institute, 2021-05-19

Mikroplastik-Forschung, Main Post, Austria, by Christian Hüther, 2021-04-16


The Arctic is facing increasing stressors under global change. Plastic pollution is starting to become a major threat to pristine Arctic environments. Yet, research concerning the quality and quantity of pollution, as well as public awareness on this issue, remains scarce.
We intend to change this with our research expedition and combined outreach work!

  1. Analyzing origin, quality and ecological impacts of microplastic pollution on the Arctic environment.
  2. Raising Awareness and inspiring for Action with our campaign “SAVE the ARCTIC”.

Supervisors: Dario Schwörer, Birgit Sattler

Mentors: Marianne Nielsen, Loïc Pelissier, Jørgen Berge, Ásta M. Ásmundsdóttir, Alessio Gomiero

Researchers: Sebastian Pohl, Max Kortmann, Meret Jucker, Dario Schwörer

Please help crowdfund the participation of the young Austrian researchers Sebastian Pohl and Max Kortmann!

Partners: Western Norway University of Applied SciencesNORCEUniversity of InnsbruckETH ZürichUniversity of AkureyriTOPtoTOP FoundationLiechtensteinische Ges. f. UmweltschutzAustrian Polar Research InstituteSwiss Polar InstituteArctic University of Norway

Main sponsor: Victorinox

Contact: max(at) or sebastian(at)

Project summary:

Download “Project Summary Poster” (German version) and “Detailed Project Description


Plastic production remains on the rise. This causes growing concern for the vast amounts of inadequately disposed debris entering oceans and atmosphere globally and its effects on Arctic environments. Due to the remote and seemingly pristine nature of the Arctic, low levels of plastic pollution were expected. However, the few studies measuring Microplastics (MP) in the Arctic have recorded the presence of MPs in marine and terrestrial environments, as well as ingested by Arctic biota. The plastic fragments become increasingly bioavailable and begin to provoke negative responses. Studies at a greater spatial scale however (especially for terrestrial habitats) are largely missing, as is the knowledge of the exact origins and transportation pathways. We intend to shed light on this rising Issue and use our research expedition, as well as our “SAVE the ARCTIC” campaign, to advocate for a better world – in our case: a world with far less plastic!


Dario Schwörer and his family sailed around the globe by fair means over the last two decades. Their “TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition” led them on a mission to educate the younger generation about the rising climate crisis and ways to prevent it. This summer, the TOPtoTOP-Crew teams up with Austrian researchers Sebastian Pohl and Max Kortmann to study the scarcely researched Arctic MP pollution. A highlight will be the first ever MP sampling on the 2277m high Beerenberg volcano on Jan Mayen. The 15m sailboat “Pachamama” will take our team on an environmentally friendly journey from Tromsø to Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland and finally down to Iceland, from May until end of July 2021.

Scientific Research Projects

We plan to conduct two major research projects during this expedition. The first one focuses on the terrestrial MP pollution, the distribution vectors of the particles and the effects they have on biota in cryospheric habitats. The second one is an on-going project that aims to understand the localization, concentration, and composition of MPs in Arctic waters, as well as the role the North Atlantic and Norwegian Coastal Currents may play in transporting plastics into the Arctic. We will sample terrestrial locations with differing anthropogenic impacts (Jan Mayen and Greenland being less, Svalbard and Iceland more impacted), as well as the marine environments along the route. Our expedition will gather important and still scarce data concerning the MP pollution around the heart of the Arctic Sea!

Outreach and Awareness

We believe that science and knowledge drive change. That is why we intend to couple our research with comprehensive outreach work. We want to spread the word about the increasing plastic problem we are globally facing. To achieve this, we cooperate with schools from Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland, as well as the local Arctic communities in Norway and Greenland. We will hold workshops focused on the expedition and our results, but also include the local youngsters in our sampling efforts and offer them skill-sharing possibilities. To follow the progress of our Arctic adventure, we will feed our own Online Expedition School “ADVENTURE” with live reports and videos from the field. We hope, this first-hand experience of our sustainably executed Arctic expedition inspires the youngster to help mitigate the increasing problems that arise with global change. 

NEWS: The “International Topper Class Association” teams up with TOPtoTOP to give young Inuits and Samis new perspectives trough outdoor-sports. Read ITCA World press release.